Anabolic steroids in weightlifting

gym sports
The sale of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) in Jordan is woefully unregulated. There are currently no laws or regulations that strictly prohibit the sale of AAS in pharmacies without a prescription. (Photos: Unsplash)
Going to the gym is an excellent way to stay healthy and fit. By exercising regularly, one benefits both physically and mentally. However, if done in the wrong frame of mind, there can be negative consequences. اضافة اعلان

Some go to the gym to improve their body image, and in pursuit of that goal, they might turn to alternatives in order to improve their performance. A common example of this, seen around the world, is the use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), often simply referred to as anabolic steroids. Although AAS can help achieve an individual’s desired results, that may come at a severe cost; therefore, education on the issue should be spread in order to protect individuals.

What are anabolic steroids?
Our body uses complex messengers that help regulate the many functions of the body. These messengers are known as hormones and one such hormone is testosterone. Testosterone is a naturally occurring male sex hormone that typically exists in the average male in quantities of 300–1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Testosterone is responsible for the changes that occur in boys during puberty, which include growing more hair on the body, deepening of the voice, and increased sperm production. Although it is a male sex hormone, women also produce smaller amounts of testosterone, which helps with bone strength and sexual function.

AAS is a category of artificial testosterones that serves a role in many medical conditions. It is a prescription medication used in cases when natural occurring testosterone levels are low or one suffers from a condition such as cancer that causes extensive muscle mass loss.

Effect of anabolic steroids on the body
Although AAS are an artificial form of testosterone, the effects they have on the body is similar. If used correctly, AASs are not inherently harmful and can have many benefits to health and performance in sport. One of the most pronounced effects of AAS are the changes to body mass. Overall, AAS will increase body mass due to increased protein production. The overall gain in mass is anywhere between 2kg and 5kg. Although there is an increase in overall mass, AAS actually decrease body fat percentage while at the same time increasing muscle mass. As a result, this can increase muscle strength, endurance, and overall performance in sport.
... Recreationally used AAS had a prevalence of 4.2 percent among college students, whereas the prevalence among athletes was as high as 26 percent.
In addition to body mass, AAS also increases the bone density and red blood cell production, which can be useful in high-impact and cardio-intensive sports. It should be mentioned that partaking in “doping” is illegal in nearly all official sport organizations and will detrimentally affect one’s career, if that is in sports. As a result, recreational use of AAS has seen major popularity in the past several decades.

Anabolic steroid use in Jordan
Jordanians, especially in Amman, have a strong gym culture. Jordanians of all ages can be seen in a local gym, each with their own goals when it comes to body image. AAS is a medication that should be prescribed based on medical needs. On the subject of performance enhancement, AAS has no medical indication and recreational use is therefore considered abuse.

A 2009 study was conducted on Jordanian college students and athletes relating to AAS abuse. The study found that recreationally used AAS had a prevalence of 4.2 percent among college students, whereas the prevalence among athletes was as high as 26 percent.

More concerningly, the study brought to light the age at which many Jordanian AAS abusers start taking these medications which can permanently change one’s body. It was determined that more than half of the athletes began taking AAS between the ages of 15 and 18. Similarly, almost a third of the sampled students were found to have started before the age of 15.

In the world of sports, the Jordanian Anti-Doping Organization (JADO) was founded in 2007 in order to help combat AAS abuse among athletes. Unfortunately, JADO was built more as an afterthought and does not address the true issue that plagues both athletes and recreational users.

The sale of AAS in Jordan is woefully unregulated. There are currently no laws or regulations that strictly prohibit the sale of AAS in pharmacies without a prescription. Furthermore, many AAS drugs are not registered at the Jordanian Pharmacist Association. Although these medications have genuine use in many medical conditions, there is no regulation on an individual’s true use of AAS, which can result in over administration and abuse.

Of greater concern is not the AAS that is available in Jordan, but the forms smuggled in from other countries. The aforementioned 2009 study found that the majority of AAS abusers used steroids that were smuggled in from other countries, mainly Pakistan, Egypt, and India. Although smuggling of AAS is illegal and is regulated by Jordan Customs officials, contraband AAS is still preferred to the steroids available in pharmacies, due to their cheaper price.

Side effects and complications
Even when AAS is used for the proper indication, there are side effects. When it is abused and used without indication, these side effects can evolve into serious complications and fatalities.

One of the greatest concerns is the administration. Since performance enhancement is not an official indication, there is no literature that suggests a “correct” use of AAS. This means that administration is greatly based on guess work, which can result in over administration of AAS.

One of the most concerning, because it may be fatal, complications of AAS is the effects it has on the cardiovascular system. Cardiac hypertrophy is when the heart increases in size; this can result from the use of AAS. It has been found in several cases of sudden death in young athletes, where an autopsy determined cardiac hypertrophy and myocarditis (i.e., inflammation of the heart muscle). Additionally, AAS can affect lipid (fat) levels in the body. High doses of AAS can cause HDL (the “good” fats) to decrease and LDL (the “bad” fats) to increase. These negative changes in lipids can increase the risk of other severe cardiovascular complications, such as coronary heart disease.
When it is abused and used without indication, (the) side effects can evolve into serious complications and fatalities.
AAS can also have an effect on mental health and behavior. Many psychological abnormalities have been described in literature relating to high doses of AAS. It has been found that psychiatric symptoms such as major mood disorders and aggressive behavior were more common in men who had taken AAS compared to those who never took it. Several studies have found that abuse of AAS may be associated with risky, or even criminal, behavior.

Lastly, AAS is a sex hormone which means that it can affect the reproductive system, especially in men. Since you are giving your body testosterone, your body begins to produce less of it. When you stop taking it, production will temporarily remain low, which can result in fertility issues. Typically, testosterone levels can return back to normal within 4 months after stopping taking AAS, although in some cases it can take more than a year, which is more common in chronic abuse. Additionally, AAS abuse can result in a condition known as gynecomastia, which is when the men breasts begin to increase and take on the appearance of those of women.

The list of complications and side effects does not stop here, and they can affect many different parts of the body. These risks can be exacerbated depending on age, gender, and any other preexisting conditions. It is best to avoid AAS entirely or any other “alternatives”. Instead, focus on a healthy and balanced diet that consists of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, while also developing a consistent exercise plan that focuses closely on different muscle groups.

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